Military Deployment and Child Custody
The State of Texas is home to many military bases, housing servicemen and women of many different branches of the military. The high numbers of military personnel living in Texas means that military service and deployment can often play a part in family law matters, such as child possession and access.
It is important to understand how military deployment can affect the rights the serving parent has to his or her child.
The Texas Family code offers specific protection regarding parenting time and access to the parent’s child when that military parent is deployed.
What is Deployment?
Military deployment is not equivalent to a change of duty station. Instead, military deployment starts with the physical movement of individuals and units from their designated home installation to a designated theater of operations.
The difference between duty station and deployment lies in the fact that the parent’s family and children cannot go with the military parent on a deployment. If a change of duty station is occurring, then the member’s family can come with that person or can visit him or her at this new station.
In addition, a deployment signifies a temporary location. Duty stations tend to be a more permanent assignment.
How does it affect custody?
When a military parent is ordered to military deployment, mobilization or temporary military duty location at a location that is a substantial distance from the other parent’s residence, either parent may file a request for a temporary order modifying possession or access to the child.
Of course, the child’s best interests are always the main consideration whenever these modification requests are made.
The parents who are military service members are required to create a care plan for the child, designating who will care for the child in the event that parent is called into duty. This care plan, however, does not hold the power to modify the court order currently in place.
If the parent is a uniformed military member, it is required that he or she be ready to be deployed throughout the world on short notice. To protect children that the service member may have under the age of 19 years old, the parent is required to complete a Family Care Certificate (FCC).
A court order may also select a person to exercise right of possession of child for the periods when the military parent is deployed.
If the military parent is the conservator who does not hold the exclusive right to be designated as the child’s primary residential parent, he or she can seek additional periods of time of possession to compensate for time lost with the child due to deployment. This request must be within 90 days of finishing military deployment.
If the parent makes this request, the court will consider the child’s best interests. The court will also look to whether there was a designated person who visited the child on behalf of the deployed parent during the period of deployment.
Whenever one or more of the parents are members of the military, relocation and deployment is always a reality. Therefore, it is important that parenting plans be created with this possibility in mind.
If the military parent is required to move long-distance due to his or her service for a temporary duty assignment (TDY), a long-distance parenting plan can include travel arrangements. This can help the parent-child relationship be preserved and continued as much as possible.
One possibility is for parents to create a clause in the parenting plan that goes in place whenever a temporary duty assignment or oversea deployment takes place. The parents may choose to extend summer or winter breaks to allow the military parent to make up for time lost.
It is key that contact be maintained between the military parent and the child as much as possible. In many deployments, this contact is not always easy or allowed, especially if the parent is in hostile or distant territory.
It is important that the residential parent do whatever is possible to support the child’s relationship with the deployed parent by fostering that communication. The designation of a relative of the deployed parent to visit the child as much as possible can also assist in supporting this relationship.
A family law attorney can work with one parent or both parents to create a parenting plan that works best for their situation. If the primary residential parent is not being cooperative in allowing the deployed parent to make up time with the child due to deployment, it is important that an attorney be contacted to file a request to make up time within 90 days after deployment ends.
Contact A Custody Lawyer Today
If you have questions about how military deployment can affect your case, please contact family lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can reach us by calling (979) 318-3075 or completing our online form. We have offices in Angleton, Webster/ Clear Lake, and Pearland.